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Mental health services for people in residential aged care facilities

473 aged care residents have received over 5,600 mental health services

The primary mental health care services in Residential Aged Care Facilities Project is part of the Commonwealth Government’s Psychological Treatment Services for people with mental illness in Residential Aged Care Facilities budget measure. This measure aims to provide people residing in residential aged care facilities with primary mental health care services similar to those delivered to the broader community under the Commonwealth’s Better Access to Psychologists, Psychiatrists and General Practice (MBS) initiative.

Types of mental health services delivered include a range of one-to-one psychological therapies as well as tailored group therapies such as art therapy, reminiscence therapy, men’s group and sleep hygiene groups. Reasons for accessing mental health support vary but often relate to adjustment to living in an aged care facility, grief and loss, and other common psychological conditions such as depression and anxiety.

Two commissioned service providers deliver the program in the greater Adelaide region. One delivers mental health in the mild to moderate step of care, and the other in the severe step of care. These programs have been heavily impacted by COVID-19 due to the need to isolate vulnerable members of the population from risk of infection. In addition, the severe service has been impacted by challenges in recruitment due to the current workforce shortage in mental health. Nevertheless, these programs are experiencing exponential growth.

In the 2021/2022 financial year, 473 aged care residents received 5,668 mental health services across all steps of care, with a range of durations according to type of service and individual need. The most common mode of delivery is face-to-face, although during facility shut-downs the service used telephones for in-reach. As of 21 July 2022, 141 residential aged Care facilities in South Australia were registered for these services.

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